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Late Deafened - Denial of Hearing Loss

Affects Both Young and Old


Updated June 05, 2011

People often know that they are losing their hearing but don't want to admit it.

Why People Deny Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is denied for multiple reasons, such as being afraid of looking different with a hearing aid. Some are afraid of looking old, or don't want to be thought of as having a disability. Others may not realize their hearing loss is causing problems in daily interactions. Still others may think their hearing loss is not serious enough for a hearing aid.

Techniques for Denying Hearing Loss

There are commonly-used techniques for denying the hearing loss. One technique is to shift the blame for the hearing loss to other things or other people. Avoiding people is another technique, because if you don't have to interact with people you don't have to deal with the hearing problem. When well-meaning people suggest doing something about the hearing loss, the suggestion may be ignored.

Effects of Denying Hearing Loss

If a person denies that they have hearing loss, they are only hurting themselves because of the psychological and physical effects that denial can have. Someone who denies their hearing loss may experience anger, stress, depression, failed relationships, and the loss of a social life.

Resources for Overcoming Denial

Quite a few books have been published that aim to assist individuals with hearing loss and their families, in overcoming the denial of a hearing loss.
  • Coping with Hearing Loss: A Guide for Adults and Their Families Compare Prices
  • Grieving For Your Hearing Loss—The Rocky Road From Denial To Acceptance - This book was published by the director of the Center for Hearing Loss Help, Dr. Neil Bauman.
  • Living with Hearing Loss Compare Prices
  • Missing Words: The Family Handbook on Adult Hearing Loss Compare Prices
In addition, organizations like Hearing Loss Association of America publish articles on this theme in their magazines and journals.

Denial of Hearing Loss on the Forum

Denial of hearing loss has come up from time to time as a topic on the forum. It is not just older people but also teenagers who deny hearing loss, as seen in the following message from MinisterPaul:
    "I am ministering to a teen girl who has just turned 18 years old and has been suspended from every high school in the state due to disciplinary and truancy problems. Her mother says that she was a wonderful student until the 8th grade and then her academic performance declined rapidly and she became depressed and rebellious.

    She admits to drug use and promiscuity but recently it occurred to me that she's also hard of hearing. The reason I suspected it is because I kept noticing that if I was talking and my head was turned away from her (in the car, for example), she would not answer me when I was talking. If I was facing her, she would answer. It dawned on me that she is not hearing me but rather she is reading lips. So I asked her if she was hard of hearing and she admitted that she was and that she had a hearing aid that she never wore. (Her father is deaf, does not know how to sign but seems to have learned how to read lips on his own.)

    I asked her if she'd like to learn how to sign and she said no. I suspect that she is embarrassed that she's losing her hearing.

    I am a hearing adult but have been learning to sign so when I was with another minister in her presence, I started signing my conversation so that she could see that it's "cool" to sign and that it's nothing to be embarrassed about. It didn't work.

    She says she doesn't want to learn to sign and that she can get by the way things are. (Well, she can't get by the way things are because she's not able to keep up with students in a regular classroom setting.)

    I sense that she is depressed because of her academic decline, the frustration of her parents and the effort of hiding from her parents how much her hearing has deteriorated."

Another forum thread on denial also centered on a young person: Denial of Hearing Loss, How to Answer? The first message in that thread stated:

    "I have a friend/roommate who is hearing impaired and I have use of both my ears; he and I have lots of communication problems because he is still in denial of his hearing loss. We constantly argue about him saying he can hear me and he really can't; we also argue about how he pretends he hears me and nods his head like he hears what I am saying and he really doesn't. This is very frustrating for me and I don't like to deal with him at times; he doesn't seem to understand how this makes me feel so I REALLY DON'T LIKE TO TALK TO HIM AT TIMES!! He also dosen't know sign because of his denial of his hearing loss."

Do you know anyone who had a hearing loss but denied that they had one? Share your story for addition to this article.

Readers Respond: Denying Hearing Loss

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